Kham Nangchen was once one of the five kingdoms of the Kham region in Tibet. Present-day, it is known as Nangchen county. It is the most beautiful place in Tibetan Plateau. Nangchen county covers around 12,000 square kilometers. It has around 80,000, and 97% of the population are Tibetans, and the rest are other minorities and Han Chinese. It is one of the counties of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province. Under Nangchen country, there are nine townships.
Shomda is the county seat of Nangchen. It is the largest town in Nangchen county as well as in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It takes two hours driver from Yushu City. These days the roads are good, and there is also public transportation available like buses and minivans. The accommodations and restaurants are good too. Nomads and farmers surround the town.
There are many wonderful places in Kham Nangchen. It has one of the highest numbers of monasteries in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Most of the monasteries are more than 400 years old monasteries and played significant roles in Tibetan Buddhism.
Tana Monastery is in a remote area of Kham Nangchen. It belongs to the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The founder of the monastery is Sangye Yelpa. He was the root guru of King Gesar.
It is under Chek Nyi Sep township. The monastery is situated at an altitude of 4400 meters. Snow-capped mountains and an alpine forest surround it. It takes around 5 hours from Shomda town and takes 2 hours from Chek Nyi Sep village. There are some hot springs and beautiful glacier-fed streams as well.
Tana Monastery is more than 500 years old, but they rebuilt much of the monastery complex due to destructions during the cultural revolution. It has located ancient thangka paintings, sacred murals, and Buddhist scriptures. They have many ancient murals of King Gesar as well.
The monastery is in Modrong village, and it takes around a 2hours drive from Yushu City. The Surmang Monastery is believed to be 600 years old. The oldest piece of the monastery’s structure is the Gon Khang (protector hall), and it remains as before. The rest of the monastery complex had been destroyed during the cultural revolution, but these days all of them are rebuilt. It has a huge Shedra complex (college) and has around 400 monks studying there.
There is another monastery near Surmang monastery. It’s a 20-minute drive from the monastery. It is known as Gaden monastery and is located near the Tsichu river. It is famous for its landscape. Every year thousands of local tourists visit there.
Gar monastery is southeast of Nangchen county. The monastery is about 500 years old with a rich history. It has many ancient murals, thangka paintings, and Buddhist scriptures. The most sacred thing in the monastery is the prayer wheel. It is also of historical importance for Tibet and China. Present days there are around 200 monks. It is about a 1-hour drive from Shomda town. The monastery comes under Baizha National Forest, and evergreen trees surround it. This is the best place for hiking and camping. There are various wild animals around the monastery.
Jupra Monastery is in Jupra township of Nangchen county. It is the largest township in Nangchen county. The monastery is situated at the upper reach of the Mekong River. It has around 600 monks, and there are many retreat sites around the monastery. The monastery is famous for its retreat sites, and every year, many monks enrolled themselves in retreat for years. It produces many highly qualified Buddhist masters and yogis. It has a nunnery as well, and there are around 300 nuns.
There are many more monasteries in Nangchen county, and the above monasteries are the most famous ones. Kham Nangchen is very famous for its beautiful landscapes and its evergreen forests. Every year thousands of tourists visit Kham Nangchen. The best time to travel to Kham Nangchen is in summer. Though summer is short and it starts from Mid June to Mid August.